Dozens of flights to and from Heathrow have been cancelled for a second day because of heavy fog. With poor weather anticipated, Sunday morning flights from the UK's busiest airport to Paris, Milan, Munich and other destinations have been axed.
In one of the busiest weekends of the year, the fog caused the cancellation of dozens of flights on Saturday, mostly from airports in the London area and the North-West. Many other flights were diverted or delayed.
At Heathrow, the “flow rate” for arriving flights was reduced and more than 60 flights were cancelled.
BA cancelled more than 50 domestic and European flights. Aer Lingus cancelled flights to Cork and Dublin, while some Air France and KLM links to Paris and Amsterdam respectively were grounded. In addition, Lufthansa axed services to and from Frankfurt and Munich.
The fog added to the aggravation faced by a group of United Airlines passengers who were due to fly out to New York on Friday afternoon. After a towbar broke as flight 941 was pushing back from the stand, they were delayed overnight at a Heathrow hotel. The replacement flight, due out at 3pm, was delayed by five hours “due to operational difficulties”.
At London City, inbound flights were diverted and most departures cancelled before the airport closed at 1pm, as it is obliged to do on Saturdays. It is due to re-open at 12.30pm on Sunday.
Gatwick airport warned passengers: “Fog is causing significant delays to both arriving and departing flights.” Flights to Rome, Amsterdam, Geneva and Glasgow were cancelled, while a departure to Madeira was delayed by 24 hours.
From Liverpool, departing flights to Geneva and the Isle of Man were cancelled, and some arrivals diverted. Passengers at Manchester airport endured long waits and some cancellations as fog disrupted operations.
Passengers whose flights are cancelled because of fog are entitled to meals and accommodation until the airline can get them to their destinations; cash compensation is not payable for delays caused by weather.
Later in the week, travellers face possible disruption because of a Christmas stoppage by some Heathrow-based cabin crew at British Airways. But there are hopes that a strike by ground staff working for Swissport at 18 airports across the UK may be averted. Talks about the pay dispute will be held at Acas on Monday. The firm has offered to accept binding arbitration if the strike is called off.
In addition to misery caused to air travellers, the railways also experienced disruption. Passengers on Southeastern reported delays on trains in south-east London, while GWR experienced problems in west London. On the Southern network, an overtime ban by drivers led to cancellations.
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